Wisconsin: Milwaukee Vacant Property Registration Ordinance
by Brian Quirk
It is the foreclosing entity’s duty to perform the inspections, secure the property if it is abandoned, and abate certain conditions as directed by the Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood services. Typically, when the abandoned property is registered, the name and contact information of the local agent handling maintenance duty are listed along with the lienholder’s information.
If an inspection indicates the property is abandoned (defined under the ordinance as “conditions … that would lead a reasonable person to conclude a property was abandoned …”), the ordinance requires the lienholder or its agents, not including attorneys, to register the property with the city for a $35 fee within five working days of the inspection, $40 if beyond five days. An accompanying form must be completed identifying the lienholder, the last-known owners of the property, the date the foreclosure commenced, the property condition, and who will be responsible for entering the property to conduct repairs and maintenance.
If a property is abandoned, the lienholder or its agents must take actions to secure the premises, assuring there are no conditions on the property that are immediate threats to the health or safety of the public. During the foreclosure, if directed by the Commissioner of Neighborhood Services through an abatement order, lienholders or their agents could have to clear sidewalks, mow, clean up graffiti, or otherwise maintain the premises. Failure to comply with an abatement order within ten days subjects the lender or its agents to the same penalties an owner of the property would face for failing to abate conditions. Finally, the lender must notify the city within fifteen days of the action being dismissed or a sheriff’s sale, confirmed.
Failing to have the property inspected, registered, and maintained, or a failure to maintain records can subject lenders to a fine between $100 and $2,000 as well as the costs of the action. A failure to pay the fine would result in imprisonment for ten to sixty days.
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